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Is Amtrak’s WiFi Still Blocking LGBT Sites As Porn?

A report out of Maryland claims that Amtrak’s wifi service blocks out LGBT news sites like the Seattle Gay News, GayCityNews.com, LesbianNews.com, and other similar sites, listing them as porn. Ugh, didn’t we go through this once already?

This past July, When Zack Rosen former editor of the D.C.-based blog The New Gay found his own site blocked as porn while on board an Amtrak train, he wrote a commentary entitled, “Fuck You, Amtrak, For Making Gays ‘Dirty'” in which he threatened to masturbate in the dining car or fuck a man in first class if they didn’t unblock his totally safe-for-work site.

Back then Mark Mastro, a gay team member directly responsible for the launch of AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi in-station and on-board, wrote Zack apologizing for the accidental censorship:

Unfortunately, something is occurring with the automatic content filtering system we are using and we are attempting to determine why it is randomly blocking sites such as this

OK, so an overzealous porn-blocking software was to blame the first time. But now a Maryland blog has just discovered that their WiFi is still blocking LGBT news sites with absolutely no porn content. We guess “gay” is still a dirty word.

You’d think that Amtrak would have spent some time picking out which LGBT sites pass the porn test the first time around rather than waiting for LGBT blogs to bitch about it every time Amtrak calls our daily news pornographic.

Image via Gamma Man

By:           Daniel Villarreal
On:           Oct 19, 2011
Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

  • 9 Comments
    • kylew
      kylew

      I really think that this is a case where you should just take them at their word and be glad that they bothered to respond at all. Surely you don’t expect that hey should compile a masterlist of the millions of gay sites and blogs that appear yearly, not tooo mention the other legitimate sites that also probably got filtered, just in case.

      I think a swift response and unblocking is the fairest thing they can be expected to do. Let’s not make a drama out of a glich.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 11:55 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Carl
      Carl

      @kylew: The real question is WHY is gay on the “hit list” to start with. Most gay sites are not porn, just as most straight sites aren’t porn either. So why is ‘gay’ on the porn watch list and not straight?

      Oct 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AFruit4Thought
      AFruit4Thought

      @kylew: I have to agree with @Carl:. There is nothing inherently pornographic with the word “gay.” I appreciate that Amtrak responded. It might just be an issue of their outside provider being homophobic. The New Gay reports that Amtrak hires a contractor for their WiFi content-blocker.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kylew
      kylew

      @Carl: Yes, that’s a fair point. I hadn’t even thought of that.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      No. 2 · Carl wrote, “@kylew: The real question is WHY is gay on the “hit list” to start with. Most gay sites are not porn, just as most straight sites aren’t porn either. So why is ‘gay’ on the porn watch list and not straight?”

      You don’t know that ‘gay’ is a word on the “hit list” but there is a simple way to test that – see if they block a review of the Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers movie, “The Gay Divorcee” (made in 1934, when “gay” had a different meaning). You can see the last few minutes at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kIPv3v4Mng as an indication of how innocuous it is.

      There may be something else that the filter is responding to. For example, if you look at http://www.advocate.com (Oct 19, 2011, 3:00 PM PDT) you’ll find some text that states that “Only 37% of Gay Men Recently Engaged in Anal Sex” (the article is about a study sponsored by George Mason University). Possibly the filter flagged the term “anal sex”. It can be even harder to track down if the filter uses a scoring system of some kind.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 6:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JAW
      JAW

      I wonder if Queerty will now be blocked… all those nasty words that are part of the story might cause the system to block us…

      ““Fuck You, Amtrak, For Making Gays ‘Dirty’” in which he threatened to masturbate in the dining car or fuck a man in first class”

      LOL… nasty words… perhaps
      porn??? Hell NO… just a pissed of rider

      Oct 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Steve
      Steve

      Amtrack is funded by the government, at least in part. Other government-funded agencies, such as libraries, have figured out how to do this properly. It really is not difficult.

      All that is needed is for somebody to actually file the suit. Then it will become a priority, and they will figure it out in just a few days.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dayle
      Dayle

      The UCLA Campus Shuttles now come with WiFi.

      Queerty is blocked on the UCLA shuttle service.

      Oct 19, 2011 at 7:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      Problem is that most content filtering lumps all things Gay into “Gay and Lesbian interests”. There are ways to drill down to segment out porn content. All things rainboe hued blocked is either a result of a lazy IT team or corporate directive………………

      Oct 20, 2011 at 7:52 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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